By Innocent Eteng
An independent committee of 11 civil society organisations (CSOs) has disagreed with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on the status of 66 projects awarded by the commission in 2017.
This followed feedback got from NDDC by the SCOs after monitoring 237 projects awarded by federal government-owned Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs) in the said year, across the nine states of the region.
Facilitated by the Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE Africa) and the African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), the monitoring committee revealed yesterday in Port Harcourt, during an interactive meeting between the CSOs and NDIs, that a whooping 205 out of the 237 projects were awarded by NDDC, hence the focus on the commission.
Further, the 66 projects of disagreement were part of the 205 NDDC projects, meaning they agree on 139 projects.
Sandra Eguagie, ANEEJ’s programme director, said with regards to the 66 projects, in some instances, NDDC claimed that the projects were completed and in use while the CSO’s field reports revealed that such projects were abandoned. In some other cases, NDDC claimed to have relocated certain projects to new communities other than the those such projects were initially meant for.
“There are issues (projects) that we say are abandoned, (but) they (NDDC) say it is completed. Eguagie said. “Out of the 205 projects that were NDDC projects, we got (disagreeing) feedback for 66 projects and even these 66 projects, they also (sometimes) agree with our status”.
Eguagie said, however, that the CSOs would only publish their final report after going back to the field to verify NDDC’s areas of disagreement.
However, the executive director of LITE Africa, Joel Bisina, said it was encouraging that the areas of disagreement were less than 50 percent of the total NDDC projects monitored.
He admonished NDDC to continually stay open to public assessment, while emphasising that the reason for the monitoring was to ensure transparency and accountability in project implementation and impact.
“We would continue to do our work about these issues because we care about how collective public resources are used. They must be used to the benefit of the people. And if billions are voted every year and billions are paid out and we cannot see the effect on ground, then the whole essence of the NDIs is defeated,” Bisina said.